The First Body-Positive Children’s Book Was Just Released and It’s Exactly What the World Needs Now | 22 Words

Historically, social media and the digital sphere haven't exactly been safe spaces for body positivity. Unrealistic ideals of beauty are still very much plastered around the world on nearly every visible surface, from billboards to film and TV to the Internet.

For children, this can be a confusing time, with technology and social media being an increasing part of their everyday lives. It's difficult to protect them from being subjected to a clouded view of what society deems beautiful. What better way than teaching them from an early age to accept themselves as who they are.

2 Atlanta based bloggers made that their mission, and have created the most amazing book to combat social bias and reinforce the message that everyone's equal.

 

There are plenty of body positivity warriors out there.

Wanting to shut down the toxic beauty standards that society puts on women (and men.)

However, what if we could tackle this problem at an early age.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if children could grow up without any fear of being ridiculed for being outside of society's norm?

That's the kind of world I want for my kids.

If you remember back to when you were young, although not that long ago... wink wink. I guarantee the characters were mostly - if not all - white, straight, and thin.

And that's all fine and dandy.

But being bombarded with main characters that look nothing like you, can have a negative effect on self-image, not to mention brew up some serious diversity issues.

Libraries are full of bright covers and catchy titles.

Although there are some good themes in children's literature nowadays, such as friendship and family life, most still focus on mundane problems like learning to share toys or brushing your teeth before bed.

Don't get me wrong...

I'm all for children escaping into a sci-fi classic, exploring different worlds, and maybe even learning a bit of Klingon.

But it's also important to focus on the important things.

Like teaching children to love themselves and respect one another's differences, so they can hopefully grow up and spread that love to other children. That's definitely something I can get on board with.

That's exactly what 2 bloggers from Atlanta wanted to achieve.

There's no doubt that kids have more diverse stories than ever before, but there is still one topic that is yet to break through the market.

Body positivity.

9 months ago Ady Meschke and Katie Crenshaw found this gap in children's literature and made it their duty to fill it.

The 2 bloggers are also moms.

While their blogs radiate body positivity anyway, it's their parenting experience and social media skills that helped fuel this project.

Their new children's book comes out this week!

Her Body Can is now available on Amazon, and will soon be available in major retailers. The book is targeted towards children aged 8 and under.

They felt the message was essential.

They both know how important it is for young girls to absorb positive messages about their bodies at an early age before mainstream biases trickle in and take hold.

Reports have risen of children feeling dissatisfied with the way they look.

Studies show that by the time girls reach thirteen years old, more than half feel dissatisfied with how they look, and fifty percent of girls from grades K to 8 are worried about weight gain. As you can see, it's so important to engrain self-love from an early age, before this can have a negative impact.

Meschke and Crenshaw were interviewed ahead of the book's release.

Glamour questioned the pair on acceptance and representation in children's books.

Read the interview below...

Glamour: "What makes Her Body Can stand out from other children’s books?" Ady Meschke: "There are books out there that teach kids how to overcome bullying or other adversity, but we thought, Why do we have to show bullying to teach kids to be nice? We just want this to be about representation without there being anything negative in our girl’s life." Katie Crenshaw: "We wanted to portray a plus-size kid living her best life, with no apologies." Ady: "I read somewhere that there are more monsters in children’s books than people of different sizes and ethnicities. We want to change that!"

Glamour: "So this is basically about bringing the power of representation to our kids."

Katie: "My daughter has a large facial birthmark, so lack of representation has always been at the forefront of my brain, and I have always been hyper-aware of making sure she knew that what made her physically different didn’t define her happiness or success. Having atypical-looking children represented in the media our children consume is incredibly important." Ady: "And that is why we were so conscious to have the illustrations in the book portray friends of all different types: kids with different physical abilities, different hairstyles, different races, different sizes, and different religions. The pictures in this book say loud and clear, “Everyone is equal."

Glamour: "Why is this book important now?"

Ady: "Body positivity is a movement right now in our space as adults, and I love it, but it needs to be taught at a young age, and that’s our goal. Just yesterday I got trolled on the internet and called fat, and that’s not going to stop me from being me, but that confidence in myself is very new. And honestly, the process of writing this book has really helped me choose definitively to put away a lot of my negative thoughts once and for all. I really believe that if I’d had a book as a kid that taught this type of message, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me until I was 34 to be that confident. The book is definitely about teaching kids not only to accept and love themselves but accepting and loving others for their differences too."

Glamour: "What inspired the book’s title?"

Katie: "Ady’s original brainstorm for the book was a plus-size princess, but after our first creative meeting, we were really gravitating toward action statements and things this girl could do. I had already started a movement called #herbodycan, focused on what our bodies can do versus their appearance, and with the ultimate direction of this book, that title just made sense here too."

Glamour: "Did any of your personal life experiences shape the book?"

Ady: "It was really important for us to address specific restrictions that were imposed upon us growing up because of our size, and negate them. My whole life I heard, 'Don’t wear two-piece bathing suits, don’t wear white, don’t wear color, don’t wear crop tops,' so we made it a point to have our heroine wear every single thing we were told we couldn’t wear because of our size. We want to change that narrative for the next generation of children."

Glamour: "What do you hope to offer parents with your book?"

Katie: Most of us were parented in an atmosphere that was fatphobic, and most of us have outdated, ingrained ideas on body image. We are all likely trying to do the same work on ourselves that we are trying to teach our children, and it’s not easy. Having something tangible like a book when trying to teach anything to children is key, and not only is this book a great tool for sensitive moments; it is also just a happy, uplifting story of a girl who lives her best kid living in the body she was born with, and what else could we hope for in a child? It was shocking for me last year when my son came home from school, having learned about calories, and as a third-grader, he was worried about what he could eat. He said the kids at school told him he would get fat if he ate too many calories and that he already had fat cheeks. Reliving that kind of hurt through your children is painful. We spent a lot of time talking about what calories actually are, why we need them, and why the size of our bodies doesn’t necessarily indicate health, but what about the kids that don’t get those conversations at home? That’s why we also want to see our book in libraries and classrooms.

Glamour: "Given your social media presence, you open yourselves up to a lot of public scrutiny. What feedback about the book have you received from your online communities?"

Katie: "I don’t think I fully grasped how needed this book was until everyone else responded so favorably to our idea. Even women who don’t have kids have told me, “I just want to parent myself with this book!" Ady: "Although the book is aimed at children, it also has nods to plus-size adults, as well. As a travel blogger, I often hear women say they are nervous about traveling because of their size, so the girl in our book travels, and she’s not afraid to run in a race, and Katie ran the New York Marathon last year despite not looking like a 'typical runner,' so it’s about just being thankful for your body in general. It’s definitely applicable!"

Glamour: "I couldn’t help but notice that your Instagram page is @BodyCanBooks, plural. So we can expect more in this series?"

Katie: "We are in our first round of edits with His Body Can, which will obviously have a male protagonist and focus on little boys’ insecurities and gender roles. It should be out later this year." Ady: "We’ve also discussed bringing out different friends who are background characters in Her Body Can and having them star in their own books. We want kids to be able to look at the cover of a book and say, 'That’s someone like me!' and just continue to reinforce the message that everyone is equal." I for one am all for this new trend. If you're looking for some more body positivity, check out these models taking Instagram by storm...